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Loch Sloy - Arrochar

Loch Sloy was the MacFarlane’s war cry but the moon was commonly known as Macfarlane’s lantern. Moonlight nights did not herald romance for the MacFarlanes, but it did shed light on the cattle they could plunder, the moon lighting up the drove roads for miles around. The Pibroch of Clan MacFarlane tells the tale……..

THOGAIL NAM BO THEID SINN (To lift the cattle we go)
We are bound to drive the bullocks,

All by hollows, birsts and hillocks,
Through the sleet and through the rain,
When the moon is beaming low,
On the frozen lake and hills of snow,
Bold and heartily we go;

And all for little gain.”

Loch Sloy is an old name in Scottish history.  The mountainous region at the head of the Loch Long, bounded on the east by Loch Lomond and on the west by Loch Fyne, may be said to have formed, back in the dark ages, part of the boundary between the kingdoms of the Scots, the Picts, and the Britons of Strathclyde.

“Loch Sloy” is the slogan of the Clan MacFarlane, one of the oldest Scottish Clans which, under 21 chiefs, held these lands from 1225 until 1784.  On the shores of Loch Sloy there was a wee clachan, on the islands of Inveruglas and Eilean-a-Vow on Loch Lomond there were fortified keeps, and the later chiefs made their home at Arrochar. The MacFarlanes played a role in many a battle fought on Scottish soil. Which side they fought on changed from time to time, but they did play their part in the feuds and forays that made Scottish medieval history. They helped King Robert the Bruce when he was a fugitive, they fought at Bannockburn and the charge of the clansmen under MacFarlane of Arrochar played a decisive part in the defeat of Mary Queen of Scots at Langside. Later at Bothwell Bridge the MacFarlanes were among the first of the troops to force their way across the Clyde against the Covenanters. Failure of the Darien scheme completed the ruin of the last of the landed chiefs, and the estate was sold in 1784, and in 1821 it passed into the possession of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss.

By the twentieth century a few scattered ruins were all that remained of the Clan MacFarlane’s strongholds, one an isolated shepherd’s cottage that stood by the banks of the Uglas Water, the hills were deserted except for sheep and deer, and apart from a few climbers, fishermen and exiled MacFarlanes, the loch had been forgotten by most Scotsmen. A memory of the midnight forays of this clan, however, lingers on as locally the moon is picturesquely referred to as “MacFarlane’s Lantern”. The “MacFarlane’s Lantern” of today is the electric lamp that lights the houses, hotels and the streets of the villages that were once the clan’s territory, the electric light and power which comes from the waters of Loch Sloy to serve the present day needs. See The Building of the Loch Sloy Hydro-electric Scheme.

See also  The Loch Sloy Hydro-Electric Scheme 1950

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